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Rene descartes

Rene Descartes : French Mathematician, Scientist

Rene Descartes (1596-1650)

Rene Descartes was a French mathematician, scientist, and a very renowned and respected philosopher. Descartes was the inventor of analytical geometry and he linked geometry and algebra with each other.

Descartes was a mathematician and scientist but he is regarded as one of the great philosophers. Descartes is known as the father of modern philosophy.

Time and place of birth

Rene Descartes was born to Joachim and Jeanne, in la haye en touraine, touraine, France on 31st march 1596.

Early life

Rene Descartes was born in the family of Joachim. His father was a member of the Parlement of Brittany at Rennes. Rene’s mother die when he was so young. He was raised by his grandmother and great uncle.

Descartes was grown up in a roman catholic family but the area in which he lived controlled by the protestants called Huguenots. In 1607 Rene first time met with the school. He became a graduate in 1614.


After graduation, he studied at the University of Poitiers for two years. In 1618 Descartes joined the army and took part in the battle of White Mountain in 1620. While Rene was in the army he had three visions in one night of 1619

His journey as a philosopher starts from here. In 1620 he left the army and returned to la haye in 1623 to sell all his property for investing in government bonds for a comfortable life. In 1628 Descartes went to the Netherlands.

There he joined the University of Franeker in 1629. In 1647 king Louis xiv of France announced a pension for him although he never got paid.

In 1649 Sweden’s queen invited him to her country to start a scientific academy. Because at that time he became one of the greatest mathematicians and philosophers of Europe.

Descartes accepted this offer and went to Sweden. He died in Sweden in 1650 due to pneumonia or peripneumonia.

Education and Career

In 1607 Rene first time went to the school where he was introduced to the world of science and maths. After this, in 1614 he became a graduate and studied civil law for two more years at the University of Poitiers after graduation.

Descartes’s father wanted him to be a lawyer. In 1619 when Descartes was in the army he saw dreams or visions. We can say that his philosophical career starts from here.

Interesting facts about Descartes

  • Descartes was a lawyer but he never practiced as a professional lawyer.
  • When Rene was in the army and in between a war he had visions that made him a world-famous philosopher.
  • Rene died in a foreign country and does not receive a proper burial because he was a catholic and that country is protestant.
  • His head is in a museum in Paris named Musee de I’homme.

Read More : Pierre Simon Laplace

Mathematical Achievement

He was regarded as the father of modern geometry. Rene was the person who separates geometry and algebra and established both as separate branches of maths.

He was the founder of the unknown in the algebraic equations by x,y,z. He set the rules of signs of positive and negative roots of the polynomial.

Contribution in Mathematics

Geometry and Algebra

He is the first person that had seen both subjects as individuals. Rene established both of them as a branch of maths. He is regarded as the father of modern geometry. In algebra, he was the first to use x,y in the place of unknowns in algebra equations.

Read More : Pierre de Fermat

Other Contributions

He found modern geometry due to this analysis and calculus developed. His works in calculus influenced another great personality, Sir Isaac newton. Along with this, he established the rules of signs to establish the positive and negative roots of polynomials.

Books written by Rene Descartes

  • Discourse on method
  • Principles of philosophy
  • Passions of the soul
  • Rules for the direction of the mind
  • The world
  • La Geometrie
  • Meditations and other metaphysical writings
  • The philosophical writings of Descartes: Volume 3, the correspondence
  • Philosophical writings
  • Descartes: a meditation on first philosophy: with selections from the objections and replies
  • Oeuvres philosophiques
  • Treatise of man
  • Meditations, objections, and replies
  • Dioptrique
  • The rationalists
  • Philosophical essays and correspondence
  • Descartes: the essential collection

Read More : Alexander Grothendieck :

Quotes by Rene Descartes

“It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well.”
Rene Descartes

“The greatest minds are capable of the greatest vices and as well as of the greatest virtues.”
Rene Descartes

“Everything is self-evident.”
Rene Descartes

“Expect our own thoughts, there is nothing absolutely in our power.”
Rene Descartes

Read More : Bernhard Riemann


What is Rene Descartes best known for?
Descartes is heralded as the first modern philosopher.

How did Rene Descartes impact the world?
Descartes is considered the father of modern philosophy. He was the first main figure of a philosophical movement called rationalism. A method to understand the world by using reason as a means to attain knowledge.

Who opposed Descartes?
Charles sanders peirce

Was descartes protetant or catholic?
Rene was a catholic whose family lived in a protestant area.

How old was Rene Descartes when he died?
Rene was 53 years old when he died. He lived between (1596-1650).

See also

Rene Descartes is french-born and just like him, France produced many greats. Like fermat, laplace, augustin cauchy, marie germain and blaise pascal etc.

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